ELACCA partners with University of Wollongong to deliver accelerated degree

Media release

1 March 2023

Workforce shortages are placing increasing pressure on all parts of the early learning and care sector. Across Australia, thousands of qualified early learning educators and teachers are needed to meet existing vacancies, with staffing shortfalls leading to fewer spaces for children at their most critical period of development, and impacting the workforce participation of many parents and carers.   

A new degree – the Bachelor of Education – The Early Years (Accelerated) – co-designed by the University of Wollongong (UOW) and the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) will boost the number of early childhood teachers, by removing barriers to study for those who are already working in the sector. 

The new accelerated degree will be delivered over two years at UOW and is deliberately designed to leverage the existing experience and capabilities of applicants through integrated work-based placement, and innovative, online course delivery. In addition, students will be paired with a mentor from the early learning and care sector, to provide them with real-world guidance and support. 

Elizabeth Death, CEO of ELACCA, is thrilled to be partnering with the UOW, and said that the new accelerated degree is providing the sector with a bespoke program to uplift the quality of our existing workforce, and boost the supply of degree-qualified early learning teachers at a critical time.

“This is a unique opportunity to connect government, universities, and providers. It is our intention to use this process as a broader commitment to building early childhood workforce capacity and ensuring quality in our sector. We see the opportunity to participate in this pilot program as the beginning of a longer and substantial partnership. 

“A survey of ELACCA members’ interest in the intensive program shows a strong appetite for engagement with this exciting new course. Importantly, we envisage the wrap-around support for educators will enhance completion of their degree and retention within their workplaces.”

Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Academic Director of the Early Years at UOW, said the new intensive program is evidence-informed, contextually relevant, and sustainable, which strongly supports equity of access for participants.  

“Through the program design process, we collaborated with the sector and drew upon the important work we have been doing in Early Start – a UOW entity that was recently recognised as a national leader of research of Early Childhood,” Associate Professor Neilsen-Hewett said.   

“It will provide educators with a connected and valuable learning experience, to help them perform a vital function for children and families in NSW.

“Our project partner ELACCA will play a crucial role in the co-design of the program ensuring the offering is tailored to sector and accreditation needs. This is seen as a strength and essential to ensuring strong uptake and organisational support.

“We know that a high quality universal early childhood system is the foundation of any productive society, and ultimately, quality early childhood education hinges on the strength of its workforce.”

UOW and ELACCA will work together to deliver the pilot program to students, with the first intake of students in July 2023.

The degree has been developed by UOW in partnership with ELACCA, in response to a tender from the NSW Department of Education. 


For more information please contact:

Sally Maddison

Early Learning and Care Council of Australia

PO Box 348

Annandale NSW 2038

Mob: 0498 228 762

E: [email protected]


About us: 

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) was established to promote the value of quality early learning and care as an integral part of Australia’s education system. Our 19 CEO members include some of the largest early learning providers in the country, representing both not-for-profit and for-profit services. ELACCA members operate 1,984 long day care services, 310 preschool/kindergarten services and 92 OSHC services, covering every state and territory. They offer one-quarter of all the early learning places in Australia. Together, our members serve 336,000 children and their families, and employ more than 53,000 staff. 

As well as promoting the value of quality early learning and the need for greater public investment, ELACCA advocates for the right of all children to access quality early learning and care, particularly children facing disadvantage. We do this by drawing on the knowledge and practical experience of our members and representing their views to decision makers in government, the media and the public.